North Korea's Foreign Minister has dismissed Donald Trump's address to the United Nations as "the sound of a dog barking", brushing aside the President's warning that the USA will "totally destroy" the rogue nation if threatened.
China is North Korea's number one trading partner, but the US has often been hesitant to crack down on Chinese banks.
While China has voiced anger at North Korea's volley of missile tests in recent months, it fears the consequences of regime collapse in Pyongyang and has repeatedly called for a negotiated solution, with its foreign minister, Wang Yi, urging an end to the "current deepening vicious cycle".
But years of sanctions have had limited effects on North Korea, which follows a "juche" ideology of self-reliance and counts on neighboring China as its economic lifeline.
Trump indicated ahead of talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts that China's leader Xi Jinping - who was not present this week in NY - had told financial institutions to stop dealing with North Korea.
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in NY, U.S., September 19, 2017.
Mnuchin earlier this month warned the USA may impose additional sanctions on China to further squeeze the regime of Kim Jong Un.
"Now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life", Trump said.
President Trump told reporters to "stay tuned" during his meeting Thursday with the South Korean president, declining to elaborate on remarks he made earlier about wanting to impose more sanctions against North Korea for its weapons program. The three leaders will also meet over lunch. Trump's advisors have repeatedly said they prefer to use diplomatic methods to curb North Korea's aggression.
The president said that for 25 years North Korea had been allowed to get away with "abuse" of the global financial system to fund its weapons development program.
Moon said he was "very satisfied" with how Trump was handling the escalating tensions with North Korea.
Trump, in his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, singled out North Korea's nuclear program as a global threat and warned that if forced, the U.S. would "destroy" North Korea.
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, defended Trump's bellicose rhetoric during a TV show interview saying Trump's threat to destroy North Korea if it attacks Washington was not out of line considering the regime's ongoing provocations. That means that we are focused in our work.
The new set of United States sanctions on financial institutions that do business with North Korea is not targeted specifically at China, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday.
Fears of a military confrontation linger, however.
The UN Security Council recently held two unanimous 15- to-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, he said.
The impasse is no closer to being resolved.
"My heart is filled with great joy when I imagine North Korean athletes marching into the stadium during the opening ceremony, a South-North Korean joint cheering squad enthusiastically, welcoming them alongside the brightly smiling faces of people from all over the world", Moon told the assembly. The last time the South had sent aid to the North was in December 2015 through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) under former President Park Geun-hye.